Brett Kavanaugh Signals He’s Open to Stealing the Election for Trump
(Slate) As the Senate was voting to elevate Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court on Monday night, the immediate stakes for the entire country were made suddenly clear by a critical election ruling from the court she now joins. On Monday night, Justice Brett Kavanaugh released a radical and brazenly partisan opinion that dashed any hopes he, as the Supreme Court’s new median justice, might slow-walk the court’s impending conservative revolution, while also threatening the integrity of next week’s election. In an 18-page lecture, the justice cast doubt on the legitimacy of many mail ballots and endorsed the most sinister component of Bush v. Gore. America’s new median justice is not a friend to democracy, and we may pay the price for Barrett’s confirmation in just eight days.
Monday’s order from the Supreme Court blocked a federal judge’s order that had tweaked Wisconsin’s voting laws in light of the pandemic. The judge directed election officials to count ballots that were postmarked by Election Day but received by Nov. 9, finding that the unprecedented demand for mail ballots combined with Postal Service delays could disenfranchise up to 100,000 voters. An appeals court blocked his decision on Oct. 8, and on Monday, SCOTUS kept it on hold by a 5–3 vote. The court offered no majority opinion, but Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh all wrote concurrences. Justice Elena Kagan penned a trenchant dissent joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
Kavanaugh’s opinion is the most notable of the bunch because he is the new median justice and the opinion is frankly terrifying. In one passage, Kavanaugh attempted to defend the Wisconsin law disqualifying ballots received after Election Day. He pointed out that “most States” share this policy, explaining:
Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election. And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter.
(Raw Story) One may disagree with a State’s policy choice to require that absentee ballots be received by election day. Indeed, some States require only that absentee ballots be mailed by election day. … But the States requiring that absentee ballots be received by election day do so for weighty reasons that warrant judicial respect. Federal courts have no business disregarding those state interests simply because the federal courts believe that later deadlines would be better.
Still, the length at which he went to describe the concerns about ballots coming in after Election Day and the credulity he showed is understandably concerning.
There’s another portion of Kavanaugh’s remarks that also caused significant alarm among some court watchers, though the issue is more technical. In a footnote, he approvingly cited former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s concurring opinion in the infamous 2000 election case Bush v. Gore, which handed the Republican candidate victory in the year’s disputed presidential election.
Kavanaugh’s footnote echoed one part of the concurrence, which was so extreme that not even all five conservative justices in the majority would sign on to it and which asserted the power of the Supreme Court to overrule state courts on matters of state law. This assertion is a massive expansion of the federal judiciary’s power, a particularly notable gambit at a time conservatives are securing a two-thirds stranglehold on the highest court. It also suggests that the Supreme Court could have even more power to insert itself into a disputed election than might otherwise be the case.
“This is a red alert,” said Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern. “I can’t believe he put it in a footnote. This is terrifying.”